Looking Forward with Hope

Looking Forward with Hope

Watch Pastor Kelly deliver this sermon or read the text below

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling—if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord

2 COrinthians 5:1-6 (NRSV)

I don’t know about you, but recently I think it feels like we are in an unending holding pattern. It’s like we are in an airplane in the midst of a storm and we are circling and circling the airport waiting for permission to land. We seem to take one step forward and then three steps back. We open our sanctuary for in-person worship, then we need to close it again. Covid numbers drop, and now they are higher than ever. We think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then we realize it was just a train coming at us.

How can we get anything done? How can we plan and prepare and get ready for what is coming next when we don’t know what tomorrow brings? Well, I guess that depends. It depends on how we are going to choose to live our lives. Are we going to wallow in our frustration, focusing on all that we can’t do? Or are we going to live by faith, believing in what we can’t see, not only planning but looking forward with hope.

Friends, it is in times like these that we need to stay focused on the light. Sure, there is plenty of darkness and frustration in the world right now that brings us fear and worry, but it is our faith that gives us hope. It’s our belief in something bigger, that assures us of new possibilities, and it’s our trust in God that fills our hearts with abundant grace.

Last Monday, when it was bitterly cold and dismal outside, I stopped in to visit my mom. Together we grumbled about how raw it felt outside, how even our dogs didn’t want to go out, how sad the gardens looked, and of course, the snowstorm that was predicted for later in the week. But then in an instant everything changed. Suddenly my mom’s eyes sparkled as she said, “Oh, good news, my seeds got delivered today!” And she showed me a big package that had come in the mail. In that moment, rather than wallowing in our frustration, we were looking forward with hope!

Later that afternoon, on my way home I thought about how excited my dad always was at this time of the year. He loved to look through seed catalogs and plan out his garden. He dreamed of new varieties of tomatoes and peppers and squash and beets. He designed new trellises for vines to grow on, fences to keep the rabbits, deer, and woodchucks out, and lighted racks to maximize his space for starting seed trays inside. But more than anything, he always tried to devise a plan as to how he would talk my mom into planting far more than they needed. And his dreaming didn’t end there. Then he had visions of the harvest, and all of the blanching and cooking, canning, and freezing that he (and mostly my mom) would do.

Just because the ground was frozen, and daily high temps were only in the teens, didn’t mean that my dad wouldn’t look ahead to spring and to his amazing garden because though he couldn’t see it, he knew was coming. You see, my dad, walked by faith and not by sight. And he always looked forward with hope even when he was surrounded by darkness and cold and struggle and there was no evidence of it. He knew in his heart that the possibilities were endless and that there was always something better coming.

And it wasn’t just gardening; my dad had amazing vision. He could imagine the blueprints of a house before they were drawn. He could visualize woodworking projects before they were built. He could see the workings of a business before it began. And he could see the good in people before they saw it in themselves. Because my dad always walked by faith and not by sight. He looked beyond the moment that he was in at the possibilities that were all around him.

Friends, too often we are nearsighted. We only see what is around us at this moment and we forget to look forward with hope to the possibilities of what is to come. I know, we don’t know for sure what tomorrow brings, when it will be safe for us to gather in person again, or when things will start to feel normal again. But faith isn’t about being sure; it’s about being willing to wait and open to receive, not worrying about where we are now, but looking forward with hope planning, and dreaming for where we will someday be.

So folks, on this first anniversary of my dad’s passing, and as we plan and dream for our upcoming annual meeting, and the year ahead, let’s choose to walk by faith, not being frustrated and worrying about what we don’t have and what we can’t do but dreaming and planning and looking forward with hope and excitement for what is coming next.

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